Half of units spoken for in downtown Montage condos

More than half the condominium units in The Montage in downtown Reno have been reserved for purchase, most of them by buyers who already live in the Reno-Tahoe region.

Fernando Leal, whose L3 Development will invest more than $110 million in the project to convert the former Golden Phoenix Hotel & Casino, said about 60 people are on the waiting list for 14 penthouse condominiums whose prices runs between $1 million and $2.5 million.

"We are extremely pleased," he said last week.

The Chicago-based development company's executives are particularly happy, Leal said, because the strong sales have come despite no advertising in California. Once that advertising starts, and once visitors begin arriving for summertime events in the Truckee Meadows, L3 expects sales to strengthen further.

Interest from buyers has been strong across the price points of the project, Leal said. Studio apartments in The Montage start in the mid-$200,000 range.

At least 75 percent of those who have reserved units plan to live in them, Leal said. Some of them have their primary home at Truckee or Lake Tahoe and are purchasing a condominium at The Montage for the days they want to spend in the city.

Investors who are looking to flip units in The Montage for a quick profit, however, will be stymied by rules that limit their ability to do so within a year after purchase.

The next step for the company in its sales effort is nailing down those early commitments. It's won approval from state real estate regulators to begin writing sales contracts.

At the same time, Leal said, construction of the project gets serious this week as utilities are capped off and crews begin a demolition effort that will last about six months.

They'll take the building down to its bare structure sidewalk superintendents will be able to see through the building after its skin is removed before rebuilding it into 800,000 square feet of space housing 380 condominium units.

The top level of condos will open onto a 25,000-square-foot rooftop garden with a swimming pool.

UPA Group is the general contractor, with completion scheduled for mid-2007.

L3 currently has a staff of five at The Montage sales office, and Leal said the company plans to move more of its executive team from Chicago to Reno. Among them will be Leal himself, who will be moving with his family.

"I've fallen in love with everything we're seeing here," he said. "I see Reno as a market that is directly in the path of a very wonderful change."


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